Share this story

An Invitation

An Invitation

Missionals at Austin Village Actively Answer the Call to Be Good Neighbors

Mother Teresa said, “Stay where you are. Find your own Kolkata (formerly Calcutta). Find the sick, the suffering, and the lonely, right where you are.” A few years ago, inspired by this wisdom, I led teens in the youth group at St. Ignatius Martyr Parish to Community First! Village (CFV) in hopes of them finding their “Kolkata.”

Community First! Village is home to some of Travis County’s formerly homeless men and women, seeking transformation from the streets to a place of permanence and belonging. We were amazed by the gorgeous tiny homes, manicured grounds, organic gardens, on-site work programs — all designed to provide dignity and connectedness. While I was overwhelmed by the beauty and joy I experienced, what really captured my imagination was learning about a unique subgroup in the village called missionals.

The village’s missional community walks alongside the formerly homeless in love and care. These are men and women, singles and families, who have never experienced homelessness themselves, who come from various faith traditions, backgrounds, family and work situations, and what unites them all is a call from God to be good neighbors. The missionals are members of a forged family who surround and hold our fragile brothers and sisters as they heal the trauma and loss suffered on the streets. Something deep within me began to stir.

My heart led me deeper and deeper into discernment. In 2017, I surrendered to the Holy Spirit’s prompting and moved into a tiny home with a rooftop deck in a part of the Village known as Tiny Town. I haven’t had a moment of regret, thanks be to God.

On the day I moved to the Village, fewer than 100 people called Community First! Village home. In Mobile Loaves & Fishes’ original design, they allocated 20% of the Village’s population to the missional community. In 2021 alone, 120 new neighbors were lifted from under the bridges, out of campsites and off the street corners into permanent housing in Community First! Village. This year, another 180 men and women are expected to move in. With this rapid acceleration in new neighbors, there is a corresponding need to expand the village’s missional population.

As a Catholic youth minister, I have found Community First! Village to be a powerful witness to the principles of our faith. We teach young people about Jesus, but those lessons come alive as we encounter him, bear witness to him and participate in his real-life kingdom work here in the Village. The 51-acre master planned community will soon add 127 more acres, making room for 1,400 new homes The harvest is plentiful. Are you being called to the mission field on the east side of Austin?

We formally invite you to be a part of this movement within the Diocese of Austin. If you or someone you know is curious, we invite you to start by visiting our website (Missionals.MLF.org) to learn more. When you are ready, come out to the village and see for yourself.

Life as a missional neighbor is a calling I did not expect, but one I am honored to be invited into. For a long while I have felt a stirring in my heart for the poor who are suffering injustices. I have admired others who were courageous enough to advocate on their behalf. It was not until I started getting involved in life at Community First! Village that I began to understand responding to God’s call to love our neighbor was not a call that was made only for a select few people holier than I.

This life of holiness is something we are all called to through the sacramental life and within our relationship with Jesus. Through the sacraments, God grants us the graces and fortitude for the work he calls us to, a holiness only he can lead and one we can only hope we are courageous enough to answer.

If the Holy Spirit is nudging you, take the next step and find out more. Participants are invited into a discernment process of both practical and spiritual conversations with current missionals and neighbors, along with opportunities to serve on-site. Please visit Missionals.MLF.org to learn more.